Our favorite Mac, iPhone, and iPad company is one of many that live prominently in the 21st century media echo chamber, which works, more or less, much like the yellow journalism publications of the last century which fomented war and political upheaval to sell newspapers.
What is an echo? And how does it work both for and against Apple?
echo |ˈekō| noun (pl. echoes)
1 a sound or series of sounds caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener: the walls threw back the echoes of his footsteps
2 a close parallel or repetition of an idea, feeling, style, or event
• (often echoes) a detail or characteristic that is suggestive of something else
Wikipedia puts the echo in a similar light.
An echo (plural echoes) is a reflection of sound, arriving at the listener some time after the direct sound. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a building, or by the walls of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single reflection of the sound source. The time delay is the extra distance divided by the speed of sound. The word echo derives from the Greek ἠχώ (ēchō), itself from ἦχος (ēchos), “sound”.
On the positive side, the digital media echo chamber of the 21st century works for Apple by amplifying the company’s product details, reputation, features and benefits far beyond the money devoted to advertising and promotion.
On the negative side, the echo chamber works against Apple by amplifying what appear to be inherent problems in a product or service. Good examples of the negative echo chamber are Antennagate of a few years ago, the recent Bendgate (also known as Bendghazi) issue where iPhone 6 models appear to bend too easily.
What’s really happening in this echo chamber is a rehash of yellow journalism from the early 1900s, where sensationalism ruled print media for the sake of newspaper sales. Frank Luther Mott defined it this way:
- scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
- lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
- use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
- emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
- dramatic sympathy with the “underdog” against the system
As much as that definition appears to fit and reflect today’s digital media madness, it was written back in the 1930s. Other than the method of distribution (atoms vs. bits), not much has changed.
Enter ‘apple iPhone bend’ in Google and you’ll be treated with headlines befitting of a bona fide media disaster for a problem that does not exist.
That’s a fetching headline for a criminal act designed to get readers and eyeballs onto a website notorious for playing fast and loose with the truth.
With a somewhat more sane approach to the details of fact than Business Insider is Consumer Reports.
As is usually the case, the truth is out there but requires the reader or listener or viewer to go beyond normal effort to determine what is fact vs. what is fiction. When it comes to segregating the two, today’s digital media (TV, cable, websites, print media, et al) often fail to apply even the basics of journalism integrity, falling instead to the lure of sensationalism, regardless the of the cost to truth, fact, or justice.
For good or bad, Apple lives in the center of that media echo chamber; beloved by hundreds of millions customers (so much for ‘cult’), bashed by a few thousand who buy digital ink by the barrel. Is it any wonder that Apple pays little attention to the way the world works, and continues to walk to the beat of a different drummer?